Nov
27
2013

Technocratic success and other oxymorons.

…Well.  Just the one, really.

Megan McArdle pretty much nails it here:

The technocratic idea is that you put a bunch of smart, competent people in government — folks who really want the thing to work — and they’ll make it happen. But “smart, competent people” are not a generic quantity; they’re incredibly domain-specific. Most academics couldn’t run a lemonade stand. Most successful entrepreneurs wouldn’t be able to muster the monomaniacal devotion needed to get a Ph.D. Neither group produces many folks who can consistently generate readable, engaging writing on a deadline. And none of us would be able to win a campaign for Congress.

Yet in my experience, the majority of people in these domains think that they could do everyone else’s job better, if they weren’t so busy with whatever it is they’re doing so well.

I agree: a man has to know his limitations. For example: I’m not legislator material.  I do agitprop and partisan hackery.  I flatter myself that I do it reasonably well – by which I mean that I am entertaining, informative, and occasionally even helpful – but I don’t delude myself that a fairly quick wit and a certain felicity of style when “consistently generate readable, engaging writing” is actually meaningful as a skill set when it comes to winning, say, the Fourth Congressional District in Ohio*.  I mention this last bit because Megan’s comments section has more than one person in it who completely missed her point by airily claiming that winning a Congressional District is a trivial exercise, as long as you have enough money.

…No.  No, it’s not.  It’s actually danged difficult; and most of the people who think that it’s not tend to get washed out before they even make it to the primary.  I know, I know: it’s mean to puncture the delusions of the online commentariat…

Moe Lane

*Not being Michael Barone, I don’t know who has that district.  If it’s a Republican, rest assured: it was a random choice.  If it’s a Democrat, rest equally assured: WE ARE COMING FOR YOUR SEAT.

9 Comments

  • Daniel Wallace says:

    Ohio 4th is Jim Jordans seat. A very good (IMO) Republican

  • midwestconservative says:

    OH-4 is R+9 so basically the election is the GOP primary.

  • midwestconservative says:

    I also don’t think there are any seats we can genuinely gain in OH. They’re all mostly Urban ( Dem stronghold seats)
    I’d much prefer we go after Connolly in VA.

    • nighttwister says:

      If only the Democrats had thought that in 2006 and 2008.

      • midwestconservative says:

        They did think that, Connolly’s seat is D+8 but it was almost carried by a Tea Party republican. I consider it more likely to be won then say a majority-minority district in Cleveland.

        Democrats didn’t go after seats that were R+16. They went after seats that had a history of picking from both parties. The right kind of Republican can beat Connolly.

  • midwestconservative says:

    Keep in mind Jordan ( in an open race) won 60% of the vote in 06!!! and 65% of the vote in 08, he won 72% in 2010. This seat is about as Republican as it can get.

  • midwestconservative says:

    A Democrat hasn’t held this seat since losing it in the 1938 midterms.

  • Luke says:

    Oh, I flatter myself that I could be a pretty good legislator. (Compared to the average legislator over the course of the last century, I have to note that it’s not an especially high bar to clear.)
    It’s the whole “getting elected” thing that would be practically insurmountable.

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